University of Hawai'i president visits Mauna Kea

By Mare Haimona-Riki

University of Hawai’i president David Lassner personally addressed the community at the base of Mauna Kea today.  It was the first face-to-face interaction he has had with the group since they first gathered over two weeks ago.

Lassner was not interested in a media conference with the press, instead addressing the group, especially the kupuna, directly with a short speech.

“I told the press, I wasn’t here for them and I don’t want to answer any of their questions.  They know where to find me," he said, "I came here because I wanted to see you, I wanted to feel your spirit, I wanted to witness for myself first-hand what is happening here."

The University of Hawai'i manages a significant amount of the land at Mauna Kea and has always been in support of the planned 30 metre telescope.

“I am committed to finding a peaceful way forward, for all the people of Hawai'i,” said Lassnar to those gathered.

A spokesperson for the Pu’uhonua (community at the base) made it clear to everyone prior to Lassner's visit that they will remain committed to greeting him with peace and solidarity, despite their differences.

Lassner closed his speech by thanking the group, "Mahalo for welcoming me so warmly, I'm glad I had this chance."